Friday’s Big Idea
Truth to Power
We live in a historical moment when the instruments of political and corporate power have become so opaque that it's difficult even to discuss injustice directly, let alone redress it. This is the case even in the West, where democracy offers the people freedom of speech and some semblance of political control, while the divided loyalties of elected officials serve private interests while the press marginalizes, even ridicules, overt dissent. Of course, it could be worse...
In China, justice is still harder to come by. While the county's "managed capitalism" has required some loosening of cultural restrictions, Beijing's control of the press remains tight, and those who dissent against human rights abuses are often swiftly silenced.
What does courage look like under these circumstances, when wisdom counsels keeping your mouth shut, or working within the system to change it? Artist Ai Weiwei, who lives in Beijing and continues to protest official Chinese injustice through art, open dissent and ongoing legal battles in the Chinese courts, in spite of having been beaten, harassed, and detained for months by Chinese police, is perhaps as powerful an exemplar as any.